Cellist and conductor Yuli Turovsky has died at the age of 73. The founder of Canadian chamber ensemble I Musici de Montréal, he also performed as part of the Borodin Trio from 1977 to 1993.
Born in 1939, Turovsky studied at the Moscow Conservatoire. He won first prize in the USSR Cello Competition at the age of 29, and later became principal cello of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. He emigrated to Canada in 1977 – a move he described as ‘a dangerous and risky business’ in an interview with The Strad in 2005. ‘If you were refused, you automatically became an enemy of the state and they would make life miserable for you.’
As well as performing as a soloist with orchestras in Chicago, Montreal, Stockholm, Athens and Jerusalem, Turovsky taught at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal until 1985, and at the University of Montreal from 1981 onwards. He founded I Musici in 1983, and remained its director and conductor until 2011 when he stepped down for health reasons.
I Musici was responsible for introducing Canadian audiences to several relatively unknown Russian contemporary composers, such as Schnittke, Denisov and Galina Ustvolskaya. ‘I give myself completely to the work, and I ask the musicians to do the same,’ Turovsky told The Strad. ‘Approach each concert as though you know it will be your last.’
Turovsky’s wife Eleonora, I Musici’s concertmaster for 27 years, died last year. An obituary was printed in the May 2012 edition of The Strad.